You know you’re winning the PR battle when your adversary switches from attacking the message to attacking the messenger. Here’s an example that also includes the common spin tactic of cherypicking: removing information from its context in an attempt to mislead.
In a recent USA Today opinion piece, Peter Schweizer, (a “Senior Fellow” at the oil money-laden Hoover Institute) tries to undermine Al Gore’s efforts to enhance public education on climate change. Specifically, Schweizer pattacks Gore’s personal committment to the reduction of green house gas – fair game as long as the accusation is accurate.
But Gore staff members criticize Schweizer’s claims as either misleading or outright falsehoods.
Claim: Schweizer claims that Gore receives royalties from a zinc mine on his property.
Fact: Gore receives no royalties from the mine, which shut down in 2003. Like many owners of small farms in Smith County, Tennessee, the Gores received royalties on their mineral rights when the mine operated. (A correction ran in USA Today on page 10A, as did a letter to the editor from Gore’s Communication Director)
CLAIM: Schweizer says that Gore controls stock in Occidental Petroleum.
FACT: Gore has never owned or personally controlled stock in Occidental. His late father, Albert Gore Sr., worked at Occidental and the stock he owned at the time of his death was sold in the 1990s. Gore’s mother also owned stock at the time of her death and it, too, was sold by the trustee of her estate.
CLAIM: Schweizer attacks Gore for not using green energy alternatives at his home.
FACT: The Gores have signed up for every “green power” option their utilities make available and are in the process of adding photovoltaic panels to their home.
CLAIM: Schweizer says that Gore does not offset his carbon emissions because Paramount Classics pays for the offsets.
FACT: The Gore’s personal carbon offsets are achieved independently of and in addition to the carbon-neutral leadership shown by Paramount Classics, Participant Productions and Rodale.
Makes you wonder who’s paying for Schweizer’s carbon offset…
In scouring about for every possible compromising detail, Schweizer fails to point out the fact that the Hoover Institute has received over $6.5 million from oil magnate Richard Mellon Scaife, through his Scaife Family of foundations. Nor does Mr. Schweizer mention the $295,000 his Institute has received from ExxonMobil.
The other PR technique the is applicable on this occasion is called the “echo chamber,” in which you try to build the credibility of a lie by repeating it. So far, Newsmax, Newbusters, Amy Ridenour and CNN‘s Glenn Beck have rebroadcast this blather. Alas, it still isn’t true.